Despite general agreement that self-service analytics tools are important to the organization, adoption of these tools remains stagnant, with less than a quarter of business users (22%) reporting they have access to and use self-service BI tools when they need it. That is the same percentage reported in 2014.

That is among the findings of a new study by Logi Analytics -- its second annual “State of Self-Service BI” report. The study shows that 91% of IT and business users agree self-service analytics tools are essential, even though adoption levels didn’t increase.

“The findings do indicate that organizations recognize what it will take to address end user needs,” the study highlights note. Also, “95% of IT respondents noted they plan to invest in self-service BI in the next 12-24 months, up 11% from 2014. Another big change; the number one place for investment is not in the tools, it’s in end user training.”

“We’re also seeing signs that users want access to more data, as fewer business users report having access to all the data and information they need,” the study highlights continue. “Once they get a taste for what’s possible, we believe many users are coming back to IT to access new sources to derive more insights.”

Still, the lack of increase in adoption from 2014 to 2015 did surprise researchers.

“With the ongoing interest in self-service and the proliferation of tools targeted at business users, we expected to see some uptick in the level of adoption of self-service BI,” Logi Analytics’ Alvin Wong, who authored the report, told Information Management in an email. “However, that is simply not the case. There seems to always be something putting drag on self-service, whether it is a mismatch of capabilities to user needs, tools that are too difficult to use, the rapidly evolving data landscape, or the combination of all these things. In fact, we found that the trend is toward greater reliance on IT versus greater independence.”

The important role of culture

The study also confirms the important role that culture has in the successful application of business intelligence.

“Creating a data-driven culture takes a lot more than just providing users with a self-service BI tool,” Wong stresses. “Fundamentally changing the way people work and the associated adoption of these tools cannot happen overnight. Moreover, as individuals needs and roles within organizations can vary widely, IT needs a deeper understanding of their skill sets in order to be successful.”

“The good news is, our research indicates that organizations recognize that in addition to selecting appropriate tools, they must include training on the tools and the data, so users can become more self-sufficient and data driven,” Wong says.

Among the additional report highlights:

• Business flexibility drives need for self-service – “The biggest driver for self-service remains the flexibility it gives business users to get things done on their own time. This year, business users also report that it helps support the over-arching desire for organizations to become more data-driven. Criticisms of IT, which traditionally include long response times and their lack of resources, are still present, but are not the primary drivers for self-service.”

• Self-service BI liberates IT – “Self-service doesn’t just empower business users. On average, self-service BI reduces IT requests by 47 percent, up from 37 percent in 2014, strengthening the case for IT to make further investments in user adoption. Moreover, this reduction in requests will allow IT to be more strategic in the use of their ever shrinking resources.”

• Marketing is the most underserved department – “63 percent of business users in marketing said self-service BI is very important to their job, the highest of all departments. However, only 9 percent of marketing respondents were very satisfied, the lowest of all departments. The huge gap in satisfaction highlights how a typical business user community struggles with transforming into a data-driven organization.”

• Data complexity reins in self-service – “In 2014, 51 percent of business users said that they had access to all the data and information they needed without asking IT. This year, only 43 percent of users reported having access to everything they needed. This decrease suggests that the need for more data coming from more sources, and the complexity of pulling it all together, has made business users more reliant on IT for their self-service needs.”

People and processes trump all

“The most important message to data professionals is that self-service isn’t just about the tools; it’s also about people and processes that create a data-driven organization, Wong says.

“Different users have different needs, and the best approach to growing user adoption is tailoring the analytic experience and capabilities to user needs and roles – this is especially important to the most underserved departments such as marketing,” Wong continues. “The importance of data from sources not managed by IT, such as cloud applications and spreadsheets, are even more important than the data from IT-managed sources – think about how you can help users by bringing data into the BI systems and helping to maintain quality, security, and governance, so end users do not have to.”

“Third, even when business users are discovering new insights on their own, you should build and implement processes to promote those insights into production reporting so they can benefit the organization as a whole,” Wong concludes.

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